So at this E3, Bethesda unveiled a project of theirs called the Creation Club, which allows – essentially – modders that they’ve approved of to create content for Skyrim and Fallout 4. Because of that, the Internet lost its mind. “Paid mods!” they yelled and proceeded to screech at Bethesda for no reason other than the fact that these two words connected in their heads.
Now, to Bethesda’s fault, they did quite a bad job presenting this, especially when the 2015 fiasco of ‘paid mods’ is still a thing people remember. The Creation Club (that I will sometimes refer as CC), however, is nothing like that. If you don’t know the details of this system, then I would strongly urge you to read the FAQ on the official Creation Club website.
Understandably, the eventual existence of the Creation Club does raise some concerns for the future of modding, and I’ll try to address them here.
And, please, stop overreacting!
But what if they start selling third-party tools like Fallout Script Extender (aka F4SE) that a lot of mods require to work?
This is highly unlikely. We’ve seen what happens when Bethesda tried to fuck with the modding formula two years ago, and they got chewed out something fierce by the community. There is such a thing as bad press and if they do that, they’re going to shoot themselves in the head. I understand that the point of a company is to make money but too much greed will end them.
Keep in mind that it’s not impossible for some mods to be actually free. This would garner favour for Bethesda if something like SkyUI was made compatible and localised and offered to the community free of charge. It’s unlikely, however.
They have to eliminate The Nexus if they want the Creation Club to work. One cannot exist while the other survives.
This is an understandable fear, but keep in mind that the Nexus has not yet spoken on the issue. This could very well mean that they are in talks with Bethesda. Be that as it may, the existence of the Creation Club means that top-tier modders will [be tempted to] leave the Nexus and try their luck at paid modding. Personally, I don’t see this as a bad thing since this would mean high-quality mods could get even better. They would be more stable, compatible with other CC mods and, not to mention, few of them will actually be abandoned since it can turn into a full-time job for the modder.
However, I believe free mods will always exist because some modders loathe the idea of their mods being placed behind a paywall. That’s how the Nexus will still be needed. Let’s also not forget that no official content will ever feature adult material, so rest assured, your Ultra HD Super-Perky Elf Knockers with jiggle physics will remain free of charge.
They’ve already ‘taken’ the Chinese Stealth Armour mod from the Nexus and put it on Creation Club.
Do not buy single-item mods. Make your intentions known with your wallet. Force Bethesda to offer you value for money and only buy the expansive content like new landmasses, quests with voice-acting, etc. A large armour compilation might be worth your money, but things like backpacks and one armour from Fallout 3 isn’t. Do not buy single-item mods.
Single-item mods will simply get copied and offered for free on the Nexus. These will not survive on the Creation Club. Mods that will be worth your money are those that require hundreds and hundreds of hours of work. Those cannot be copied. The content that will make the Creation Club worthwhile would be big swooping gameplay changes, new areas to explore, new systems, overhauls, etc.
The Creation Club will encourage Bethesda to make better modding tools for it’s CC members and give the community less capable versions.
Speculation. This posits that Bethesda is willing to create two different types of modding tools just so they can make things better for their paid modders and encourage more creators to come on their programme. It might happen as time goes on but the backlash they would receive from it might not be worth it. The existence of a better Creation Kit would not stay hidden for long.
It’s more likely that the ‘better modding tools’ is going to be Bethesda itself since CC creators will be able to work with people that have access to the source code of the game. A better Creation Kit might not need to exist at all.
How can you trust Bethesda to curate content when their own games don’t even work?
Never have I needed a mod to finish Oblivion, Fallout 3, Skyrim or Fallout 4. The idea that these games require mods to work is a ridiculous statement. They do crash from time to time and Bethesda should be called out for it, but I’ve never been unable to finish a game in its vanilla state.
Mods should be a work of passion! Putting a price tag in front of it is akin to selling your baby!
All I can hear from this statement is ‘muh free content’. You are not entitled to someone else’s effort. Expecting modders to work for free is acting like a spoilt child. Sure, they started the project of their own free will but you benefit from it. It’s perfectly fine if a creator wants to offer their work for free but you shouldn’t antagonise them if they want compensation either. Time is money, after all.
Modders should just go to crowdfunding sites like Patreon instead of selling their souls to the devil.
Who would donate to them? People don’t donate to modders because they think mods should remain free. Are you even aware that you can donate to modders on the Nexus through PayPal? Not many people do.
This will divide the modding community!
From the look of things, very few people will be able to get into the Creation Club so it’s unlikely that traditional modding is going to go away. That being said, new collaborative efforts could emerge and ‘indie modding companies’ might see the light of day.
All the mods like Helgen Reborn, Falskaar, Enderal are going to go on the Creation Club and we’re going to have to pay for them.
Yes, and the quality will likely be better for it. Stop being a freeloader and compensate those hard-working content creators. If creators don’t want to put their mods behind a paywall then they can release them on the Nexus, which is still going to happen.
Think back to 2015 during the paid mods fiasco: was there not a counter-push of modders adamant that their mods should remain free? Forever Free, it’s called. This is going to happen again. Free content will always be available.
A modder’s vision will be destroyed by Bethesda so that it fits into their narrative!
You don’t know that. Pure speculation and fear mongering. It’s likely that some ideas are going to change a bit and it’s up to the modder to decide if it’s ok. If not, then they can back out of the Creation Club agreement and make a free mod. The way I see it, this is like looking for a job or looking for investors for your project. If they don’t think it’s feasible, they’ll reject your idea. If they think your idea has merit but requires modifications, then they’ll tell you to change things. If you’re not okay with that, leave.
Obviously, I’m being a bit optimistic about this entire situation. While this has the potential to succeed, it can also fail miserably or is simply ignored and forgotten with time. It’s entirely possible that nothing will come of it and this whole drama will blow over, and ‘paid mods’ will be gone for good.
In the event that the Creation Club doesn’t die, here are some things I think it needs that would make it better:
A refund/trial system!
This may be tricky to do, but having the option to test the mod first could help get a feel for the mod in question and help quell some of the notion that ‘Bethesda is out there to steal my monies!’
Allow real money payment and/or allow players to generate credits by playing.
Virtual currency like ‘credits’ is how companies encourage you to buy more than you would by creating a system where you would have leftover ‘money’. Since credits are also sold in fixed amounts, you will be sometimes buying more than you need, which continues a cycle of ‘I just need a few more’ and end up overspending. Allow people to pay with real money – or – enabled players to earn credits by playing the game. Virtual currency is shady obfuscation and a scummy practice in general and should be discouraged.
Ban ‘microtransactions’ through small mods.
People want value for money. Mods like backpacks, Pipboy recolours, ‘Dwarven Mudcrab’ and ‘Horse Armour’ only give people the impression that the Creation Club exists to plagiarise content that’s already available for free. Only allow large, expansive mods to exist on the CC store and people will feel better about paying money for content they know is going to offer them a different experience and/or more play time.
Don’t restrict content to the narrative of your games.
One of the great thing about mods is the endless possibilities that they can bring, and forcing them to exist only within the Skyrim or Fallout legendarium could severely hamper creativity. Allow creators to break the fourth wall – go wild with ideas – and allow them to do total conversions of either game (eg: Nehrim, Enderal).
I know I’ve been using the word ‘mod’ in this article but, really, this is more like outsourced DLCs with a twist. Instead of all concepts coming straight from Bethesda, it’s coming from talented and creative people from outside the studio, which is bound to breathe some fresh, new ideas into their content.
All in all, this can be a very good thing for content creators. Good mods are not easy to make and take a lot of time and effort so to be able to get some compensation for all that hard work is something that a lot of people could benefit from. Modders get paid, and their content is made better.
If Creation Club fails (or succeeds for that matter), the one silver lining this can have for the ‘always free’ crowd is that it could incentivise them to create their own version of Patreon, but for mods, and actually donate this time around. Currently, very few mods are able to sustain their creators, so to simply expect people to be able to create things for free smacks of entitlement.
Gamasutra posted a very illuminating article on the issue, which I would encourage all of you to read: The Pros and Cons of Bethesda’s Creation Club. Keep in mind that the writer is a modder himself, so some bias is understandable. However, the points are well-argued and reasoned, and some insight is given into the reality of modding, so I see no reason to dismiss the article.
Here’s an excerpt:
Paid content will kill the collaborative spirit of the modding community.
This argument is based on the premise that there is a lot of collaboration and sharing of information between content developers, and the fear that introducing commercial competition may kill that collaborative dynamic.
To see whether commercial competition kills collaboration and information sharing, we need only look at the indie games industry, where developers form extensive networks and exchange information regularly, even though they are technically competitors. Sharing information is a common way of increasing one’s profile and extending one’s network. Clearly, a profit motive hasn’t stopped this exchange of information in other communities, so there’s no reason to think it will do so in a Creation Club system.
It may even be that new forms of collaboration emerge: the potential for profit may drive enterprising content developers to band together into teams. Since collaboration and the division of labor makes projects more efficient, teams of professional content developers would be able to create more content, more often than they could working as individuals.